Keys to Improving the Hiring Experience for Sales Candidates


Last week on LinkedIn, an originator lamented that he was being recruited by a number of lenders who claimed to be unique but had nearly identical products and technologies. The originator was searching in vain for a company with more to offer than the same old products and payout pitch. In my consulting practice, I find that the vast majority of mortgage firms are still recruiting on the basis of products and pay plans. No wonder sales candidates are less than enthusiastic about these offers.

While product and payout sales pitches are attractive to some originators, the better originators have a more expansive view of their business and are not sold on future payouts. The reality is that at some point, high payouts have a financial impact that can jeopardize a company’s existence. Top producers recognize this as a red flag when deciding whether to switch lenders.  In my view, companies that only emphasize the financial side of the originator’s interests are missing an opportunity to target more meaningful drivers including a producer’s purpose and values.

This year, I have written several blogs on enhancing the customer experience which boils down to matching sales techniques with consumers’ needs and preferences. Similarly, the sales candidate experience in mortgage banking needs to be redefined and enhanced starting with how we sell the candidate on joining a new lender. To hire the best talent, the recruiting pitch must be viewed as a chance to create a fan of the hiring company whether a candidate joins the firm or not.  As we all know companies and originators can’t have enough fans!

When a company handles a consumer poorly, they are at risk of an unhappy borrower telling friends and family members about their negative experience. Likewise, candidates who are mishandled by a lender can damage a company’s reputation and hiring success. Mortgage banking relies on word-of-mouth referrals for recruiting and the consequences of a poorly managed hiring effort has ramifications that reach far beyond a single sales candidate.

Impressing sales candidates during the interviewing process requires personalizing all interactions to the individual from the initial recruiting call to filling out an application and onboarding. For mortgage lenders, the first step is to understand their brand and to be able to effectively communicate why an originator should work for them.

A product and payout pitch assumes that originators are only motivated by financial outcomes. Certainly, product and money are important but they are frankly not the best pitches to make candidates feel safe moving their customer base to someone new.

As Susan Fowler, author of Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What Does, keenly observed, “individuals are always motivated. The driver of their motivation is their purpose and values.” What this means for recruiters and hiring managers is that they need to search for sales candidates who possess innate sales talent and then target producers who are aligned with the organization’s purpose and values. While most companies have a written mission and value statement , oftentimes it does not reflect the current view of the management team or what really is valued at a company.

If you want to have success in recruiting better originators and improve the candidate’s experience, a company’s recruiting efforts should focus on the following strategies that were discussed in LinkedIn’s Talent blog:

• Candidate experience is driven by a company’s ability to recognize that finding good hires take time and effort. Constant searching for the better match requires a good plan and defined goal of what is a match. It is more than a review of W-2s.

• Recruiting’s first tenet should be to treat each candidate with respect and to manage the process well.<

• Managing the recruiting process well involves:

  1. Recognizing not all candidates are ready to make a move right away. Do you have a talent community to stay connected and keep them up to date on company news?
  2. Does the candidate receive a detailed chart on the interview process when starting the process?
  3. When hiring individuals, is there a website where they can click on current employees they will work with during the hiring process?
  4. Are a company’s emails or texts personalized to the candidate? There is nothing worse than receiving an generic auto-response.
  5. Is the company or recruiter contacting the candidate frequently even when there is no news?
  6. Is the interview process organized from start to finish? Does someone meet the candidate when visiting corporate? Is there an agenda for the day if the candidate is visiting?
  7. Is the interview personalized to the candidate? No one wants to answer the same questions over and over again. Have you discussed the purpose and values of the candidate?
  8. How are rejected candidates handled? Do they receive a personal phone call?
  9. Does your company survey candidates periodically on how to improve the process? Does the company hold recruiters responsible for the candidate experience rating that they receive from the survey?

Candidate experience is too important not to be first-class. As we get ready for next year, improving the candidate experience should be a top priority.